It feels as though every week brings new reports on the increasing levels of inequalities in our communities and on a national level. Recently Sir Angus Deayton, who is currently leading a review of inequality in the UK, warned that the UK is on the same track as the US to become one of the most unequal nations on earth. Stagnant and low pay, insecure work, benefits reform (aka austerity) have all led to a sharp increase of those struggling to get by with the fundamental necessities of housing, food and clothing.

Scotland is not immune from these issues with soaring levels of child poverty reaching 46% in Glasgow Southside. In my own ward in West Lothian, this figure is almost 1 in 3 children; children whose life chances are being impacted by inequalities at the earliest stage.

And in council chambers across Scotland there will no doubt be debates worthy of Groundhog Day about where the blame lies. And it is right that we have those debates and discussions in order to highlight the brutal impact of policy decisions on the people we have been elected to represent and also to shine a light on how councils are at the coal face of austerity with ever decreasing budgets alongside ever greater need in our cities, towns and villages.

For me, the Co-op Party’s Food Justice campaign is a call to action. It’s not about waiting to see what the UK government or the Scottish government will do next, it is about what society as a whole can do to tackle the hunger that exists in our communities today. It is about bringing together local community, third sector and church groups (all of whom are very often the unsung heroes in helping the most vulnerable in our communities) with councils and the business community to talk about the specific need in our local areas and to identify the existing resources and where they can best be directed. It is about being proactive and taking responsibility, not waiting for another agency to announce plans that may filter down to local levels in a few years time.

As a Labour councillor I am proud to support the Food Justice campaign and to bring it to life in West Lothian via my successful Food Insecurity motion recently passed at full council. With 8.4 million people in the UK struggling to get enough to eat, this is the time for deeds, not words. So let’s spread the word and get the ball rolling; it’s time for Food Justice